Louis C.K. on Technology and His Children

by Leandra Medine
September 20, 2013
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Today, Gawker brought to our attention the prodigiously wise and incredibly funny musings of one Louis C.K. during his recent stint as guest on Conan O’Brien’s late night talk show. On the topic of children and cellphones, he explains precisely why he doesn’t want his children utilizing the anterior: empathy. They don’t learn empathy. Furthermore and perhaps more interestingly, he goes on to discuss the human condition—the deep sense of sadness that manifests under all the other Stuff with a capital S—that sense of, What are we here for? We’re all alone and it’s for nothing.

Watch the video for yourself. Laugh if you want but pay close attention so that when you’re through we can talk about the whole sadness bit. Do you agree that we may be using our digital appendages as a source of solace from thinking about the stuff we don’t want to think about and perhaps more largely: loneliness? I really liked his point toward the end on embracing sadness and the happiness that comes out of it, but then again maybe that old stereotype about comedians being incredibly dark is true.

[Louis C.K.'s Explanation of Why He Hates Smartphones is Sad, Brilliant via Gawker]

REPLIES
  • Amatoria Clothing

    Brilliant and too deep to discuss over this medium. My children will not have phones until they are old enough to drive. Also, I love Conan. So hard.

  • vanessa shokrian

    I love Louis CK and I love the way he embraces sadness. We can all relate….we all constantly distract ourselves with social media/our phones etc to avoid thinking about our pains. Everyone has pain. We are human. It’s takes a lot for someone to face that sadness and embrace it. That’s whats so great about Louis. No one else talks about sadness the way he does….it’s so honest, real….and even funny. He’s such a man….for being so honest about it and showing the world his feminine side…like when he said he pulled over to cry. What a man. I love him to the end and back.

  • http://jessjoycej.wordpress.com/ Jessica Joyce

    Honestly, when is Louis CK ever wrong about all these social issues? Or rather, when can we really disagree with this man?

    Your Friend, Jess

  • Annie

    I never felt any particular ties to Louis CK prior to viewing this clip. Henceforth I shall sing his praises for being an all around great human. And also, there’s no way I’m buying phones for my kids (I don’t have any kids). Hey, thanks for sharing!

  • dragonfly

    This is completely amazing… I’ve been thinking something along these lines for a while, but never would have articulated it nearly that well.

  • http://www.thewelderswifelife.blogspot.com/ Aslyn Lapham

    I love his points. I really think people can’t stand to be alone anymore and have to feel connected. My daughter wont have a phone until she hits her teens, just like I did.

  • http://www.hauteinhabit.com/ Haute Inhabit

    Oh, I love him. This one is my favorite, you may appreciate: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpW3orlfp7E

    • http://www.hauteinhabit.com/ Haute Inhabit

      Also, don’t necessarily agree that we are sad, I just know most people are extremely uncomfortable being alone (eating lunch by themselves can seem so farfetched). The phone at that point becomes a crutch in feeling/looking lonely. Like he said, we can’t just sit and be human.

      • Leandra Medine

        Well I think the root of the problem here is in that feeling of discomfort when prodded by loneliness. We hate to be alone because it reminds us that even though we’re not “alone” we actually really are certifiably, unquestionably, absolutely alone. People say their biggest fear in life is dying alone but if you think about it, unless your life plot parallels that of like, The Notebook’s, you can pretty much rest unassured that you WILL die alone. Which, of course, brings us back to his second point which argues: it’s all for nothing.

  • Lisa Thomson

    Yes, yes and yes. I’m afraid the children will be numb. If it isn’t our phones then it’s prozac. People, including doctors are uncomfortable with sadness so they prescribe it away. It’s healthier to let it be like Louis CK recommends.

  • http://www.solesatisfactionblog.com/ Kate

    I think loneliness might be a part of this, especially when one is so used to constantly being ‘liked’ and having ‘friends’ via social media, but I think there are even bigger implications than not knowing how to just ‘be’ for generations growing up with this. I read a really interesting article the other day about what is happening to the generation that is just entering the workforce and the impact this behavior has had on their social skills and view of themselves (http://www.forbes.com/sites/netapp/2013/09/17/rethink-hiring-social-media/).

    As an active blogger – albeit an older, later adopter of such technological behavior – I too have to remind myself to put down the phone and interact with whatever is in front of me, but I don’t think I use it as an escape from thinking about the big, important Stuff. It’s hard to argue with connecting via people this way, especially from my personal experience as an expat who has perhaps only created a circle of friends – both real and as-of-yet virtual – in a whole new country by connecting via this technology. I think as long as you can unplug often and revel in the aloneness, it can’t be all bad. Really, it’s not that far off from religion – a way to help the human race feel not so alone.

  • http://www.fancyalterego.wordpress.com/ Heather P.

    This very topic just led to my husband and I getting into a bit of an argument. I, much like Louie, think that giving children the chance to “check out” of experiencing the feelings of others is a bad thing. Children need to learn to cope with how their awful behavior affects others, but they also need to learn to cope with what happens when they find themselves being attacked. Being able to check out, or call their parents at a whim to defend them, isn’t teaching them how to handle things independently. As adults, we can’t call on our parents when our bosses are being assholes, we’re flunking out of college, or when our friends turn on us – and learning how to handle similar situations as children makes us stronger, more assertive adults.

    Maybe it’s the difference in how we grew up, but we both have very different ideas about how to handle being bullied. He thinks having a cell phone as a child would have been a way to get out of being picked on – he could just call his mom who would come and take him home. He wouldn’t have had to learn how to deal with being picked on, and his life would have been rosy-colored and awesome.

    I think giving a young child (we’re talking 8-10 years old) a cell phone creates a severe lack of independence, and the excuse to not have to deal with your emotions head-on. I have college students who STILL call their parents when they aren’t doing well in school to “stick up for them.” Thankfully, we have laws that prevent college teachers from talking to parents…but I’m still disappointed that I keep seeing people in their 20s who won’t take responsibility for their own behavior.

    So in conclusion, I’m cool with telling my kids they have to wait to get a phone. They need to learn to play alone, be alone, and handle their own emotions before being given that kind of technology. Hopefully someday my husband will understand that, but until he does, there will be no pitter-patter of little feet in my house. :-P